Nose: As expected, this is briny and coastal, with soft smoke and rich caramel. Then we get some rather muffled dark sherry notes, mostly sultanas and dark fruits. There’s also bran, ginger, blood oranges, cinnamon, wine tannins, molasses, dark chocolate, and damp leaves.
Palate: Thick mouthfeel. That bran from the nose really characterizes the palate. There’s also big salt, cinnamon, malt, ginger, wood spice, some stewed fruit, and dark chocolate.
Finish: More bran, malt, and chocolate. The oak is powerful in a very controlled way. Big coffee, cherry wood, star anise, Irish Cream, molasses, and almonds.
Thoughts: This is different from the 12. The coastal, gently smoky house style is ever-present, but this is much sturdier. I like it. The bran note here is really special, and I also enjoy the calm, but powerful wood notes. But when compared to the 12, there’s less dynamism here.
I absolutely loved this the first time I tried the 18, but after revisiting it several times, I haven’t noticed any interesting or new developments. I think this is almost TOO sturdy. There’s very little change that happens in the bottle or in the glass. This tastes the same now as it did when I first opened it. The consistency of flavours and the controlled quality of this whisky do give the 18 a certain elegance, but I feel it’s sacrificed the vibrancy that makes the 12 year old so good. But I don’t want to knock this too much. The core flavours are rich and beautiful.